Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Media Rights Agenda (MRA) have renewed calls for release of kidnapped Punch Newspaper correspondent, Mr. Okechukwu Nnodim.
Nnodim was kidnapped from his home on February 3, by five armed men, who stormed his compound in Arab Road area of Kubwa, in Abuja, through scaling his fence to gain entrance into his house. The kidnappers also abducted a widow’s two sons in the neighbourhood.
Speaking with The Guardian, yesterday, NUJ President, Chris Isiguzo, said: “I learnt they are demanding N10m. I have not confirmed it. It is sad that we are going through this and it boils down to collective challenge we have as a people: the challenge of insecurity, which is plaguing the country. Bandits are terrorising the Northwest, insurgents terrorising the Northeast, farmers/herdsmen clash in the Southwest and part of Southeast. There is kidnapping virtually across the country. Government must protect its citizens and the media.
“Men of the underworld must realise the media is a strategic part of the system, and they must not unleash their mayhem on us. I call on those taking our man hostage to release him. This is not good for us. It means there is a deliberate aim by some people to plunge the nation into a state of anarchy. Government must rise to the occasion and protect us.”
Similarly, MRA Programme Director, Mr. Ayode Longe, said: “Although reasons for Nnodim’s abduction and two others were still unknown, but since they are citizens, the government, its law enforcement and security agencies have a duty to investigate the crime and bring perpetrators to justice.”
Longe said kidnapping of journalists and other citizens have become too rampant, and requires urgent and concerted action to stop it.
He said security and law enforcement agencies need to wake up from their slumber, as the level of insecurity of lives and property of Nigerians, and other residents has now reached unacceptable proportions.
“ In the last few years, journalists have been kidnapped in their homes, on their way to work or from work with no effective response from the law enforcement and security agencies. Many are consumed by the fear that it may likely to be their turn at anytime and are feeling helpless about the situation.
“ In 2020, MRA documented several cases of journalists kidnapped, either from their homes or while returning from work. They included Mr. Maxwell Nashian, a journalist with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN). He was kidnapped from his home in Adamawa State on January 2020 and later died in the hospital after his release. Also, Chinenye Iwuoha, another journalist with the FRCN was kidnapped in Umuahia, Abia State on May 6, 2020 while returning from work, ” he said.